The promoters and associates of Cetex Petrochemicals, the Chennai-based manufacturer of Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK), intend to sell their stake in the company.  

It is reliably learnt that Cetex has engaged the Chennai-based consultants, Veda Corporate Advisors Pvt Ltd, to find a buyer for the 55.16 per cent stake owned by the existing promoters of the ₹350-crore company. 

Sources also said that many foreign companies as well as buy-out private equity funds have shown interesting in acquiring the stake. Negotiations are on and could be concluded in four to six months, said people with knowledge of the development. 

Cetex Petro was set up in 1989 by the RP Goenka (RPG) group in the vicinity of the Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd, (then called Madras Refineries Ltd), now a subsidiary of Indian Oil Corporation. Cetex manufactures MEK using a refinery product, butene, supplied by the refinery.  It became a division of KEC International, part of the RPG group in 1991 and spun off as a 100 per cent subsidiary in 2003.  

In April 2004, the company was taken over by S Ilanahai and his associates. Ilanahai, a professional, was previously with Nagarjuna Refineries. When Ilanahai took over the control of the company, its turnover was ₹24 crore.  

Ilanahai and his family and associate firms Sacred Banyan, PR Shivakumar, Chain Tools and Products Private Limited collectively own 55.16 per cent of shares of CPL. CPL is the sole producer of MEK and Secondary Butyl Alcohol (SBA) in India but it also produces an assortment of chemicals—solvents, alcohols and specialty chemicals. with a combined installed capacity to manufacture 22,000 tonnes per annum.

In 2019-20, Cetex Petro diversified into producing Methyl Iso-Butyl Carbinol (MIBC), which is used in surface coating, adhesives, cosmetics, toiletries, and cleaners. “The company is one of the very few manufacturers in India with additional advantage of having backward integration for hydrogen,” says a January 2022 ratings report of the rating agency, CRISIL.  

The rest of the stake (44.08 per cent) was held by Wayne Burt Petro Chemicals Pvt Ltd (WBSPL), which came in as strategic investor in 2013. 

WBSPL is currently under liquidation and the official liquidator has taken over the assets and liabilities of WBSPL, says a July 2022 report of the ratings agency, CARE. In April 2018, 2,878,464 shares (4.27 per cent) were transferred from Wayne Burt Petro Chemicals Private Limited to Sacred Banyan Infra Private Limited. The transfer is disputed before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) by Wayne Burt Petro Chemicals Pvt Ltd.